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The Old Coach House Hotel Potton

The Old Coach House Hotel (formerly the Rose and Crown and the Crown): 12-13 Market Square, Potton

 The Rose and Crown about 1900 [X758-1-8-10]
The Rose and Crown about 1900 [X758/1/8/10]

The early history of the Old Coach House, known for much of its life as the Rose and Crown, is not entirely clear cut. In 1735 Benjamin Smallwood and Elizabeth, his wife, John Eldred and Mary, his wife and Anne Tilbrook all surrendered the Crown Inn to John Pedley [AD345/2/5]. The inn was surrendered because it was copyhold, held of the Manor of Potton Much Manured. People held copyhold properties from the manor and instead of conveying them to someone else had to surrender them to the Lord of the Manor at a manor court and the new owners then had to seek admission from that manor court or a subsequent one. This allowed the manor to claim a fee (or fine) for the privilege.

In 1753 Pedley made his will and devised the Rose Inn to trustees for sale [LS117]. In 1783 the Crown Inn was destroyed in the Great Fire of Potton. We know this because it is one of only two inns to be named in a contemporary pamphlet giving an account of losses in the fire. William Mean, the innholder, who was also a farmer lost the very substantial sum of £369/13/10; his ostler, who looked after the stables, Thomas Dust lost £4/7/0 and his servant Sarah Thompson lost £4/17/-.

A little later that year the site of the Rose and Crown, destroyed in the fire, was devised by Thomas Hankin to trustees for sale, who were then admitted to it at the court of the Manor of Potton Much Manured. These documents suggest that the Crown, mentioned in the pamphlet is the same as the Rose and Crown as only three inns, the Crown, the George and the Red Lion, are named. Prior to 1783 John Pedley is described as holding an inn called the Crown and one called the Rose. This suggests either that the two inns were synonymous or that at some point Pedley closed one and renamed the other the Rose and Crown. His trustees had evidently sold the inn between the creation of his will in 1753 and the fire thirty years later.

12 and 13 Market Square, today’s Old Coach House Hotel was listed by the former Ministry of Public Buildings and Works in October 1866 as Grade II, of special interest. The listing dates the building, not surprisingly, to the 18th century, though it was re-worked in the 19th century. It is built of red brick and comprises three storeys beneath a clay tiled roof.

After the fire there are still references to a Crown Inn as well as the Rose and Crown, from 1801 to 1847, which suggests that the memory of the old Crown inn lingered. It seems unlikely there were two separate inns, one called the Rose and Crown and one called the Crown between these fates because the countywide licensing register which runs from 1822 to 1828 [CLP13] only lists a Rose and Crown, no Crown.

In 1785 the new owner of the Rose and Crown, newly erected by Hankin’s trustees, William Fowler of Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire], brewer, was admitted at the court of the Manor of Potton Much Manured [CD859]. Evidently he had bought the inn from the trustees. The manor court held a dinner at the inn in 1794 [HA323/12]. By 1801 William Fowler was dead and the devisees of his will surrendered the Rose and Crown to Henry Smith, who was duly admitted [CD860]. The tithe commissioners met at the inn in 1814 [X744/56]. In 1831 Henry Smith devised the inn to his son of the same name in his will [CD853]. Henry Smith junior was admitted in 1834 [CD861]. The inn was a popular place at which to hold auction sales of other properties from at least 1801 [HA323/14] to at least 1916 [LS690].

The countywide licensing register of 1876 tells us that the Rose and Crown had been licensed for over a century and it was then owned by William Dennis of Gamlingay, who must have bought it from Henry Smith, or one of his successors in title in the forty two years since 1834. The countywide register of 1891 gives a new owner, Edward McHarrison of Biggleswade, who had leased it to Bedford brewers Charles Wells. The countywide register of 1903 gives the owner as Charles Wells, the inn was 41 yards from the nearest premises, was in good repair and had one front and one back door.

Rose and Crown billhead [X704/92/21/3]
Rose and Crown billhead [X704/92/21/3]

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Potton, like much of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the Rose and Crown Hotel states that the owner and occupier was William Henry Fowler, who had been there for thirty five years [DV1/C11/124]; this shows that the 1903 licensing register was in error and that Charles Wells simply leased the property from Fowler in order to sell the firm’s produce on a tied basis.

The valuer noted that business was "not so good as it was". The premises, which was "old in fair condition", consisted of three letting bedrooms, five other bedrooms in use and a bathroom and W. C. upstairs. Below were: a coffee room; a commercial room; a bar; a kitchen and a scullery. Beneath the ground floor was a cellar, a large assembly room and a harness room. Outside were an eighteen stall barn with a loft over, a four car garage, a store ("all practically disused") and a garden. In the yard stood a workshop occupied by William Leonard Cracknell, a coachbuilder, as well as a potato store and six buildings occupied by Thomas Cheetum of 41 Horslow Street as a small farm.

 12 and 13 Market Square February 2013
12 and 13 Market Square February 2013

References:

  • AD345/2/5: surrender: 1735;
  • LS117: will of John Pedley: 1753;
  • General Account of Losses in the Fire: 1783;
  • CD858: site of the Rose and Crown (destroyed by fire) devised: 1783;
  • CD859: surrender: 1785;
  • HA323/12: bill for manor court dinner: 1794;
  • HA323/14-16: sale particulars for an auction held at the Crown: 1801;
  • CD860: surrender: 1801;
  • CD860: admission: 1802;
  • X744/56: Tithe Commissioners to meet at the inn: 1814;
  • X744/45: letter sent from inn: 1815;
  •  CLP13: Register of Alehouse Licenses: 1822-1828;
  • CD853: devise: 1831;
  • P64/5/2/202: bill: 1832;
  • LS178: auction sale of land held at inn: 1833;
  • CD861: admission: 1834;
  • WG2439: auction sale at the inn: 1834;
  • P64/5/2/272: bill for wine: 1838;
  • P64/5/3/378: bill for wine: 1841;
  • P64/5/3/400: bill for wine: 1842;
  • P64/5/3/419: bill for wine: 1842-1843;
  • WG2440: sale particulars for an auction held at the Crown: 1843;
  • P64/5/3/442: bill for wine: 1844;
  • P64/5/3/452: bill for use of horse and chaise: 1844;
  • P64/5/3/469: bill for wine: 1845;
  • P64/5/3/475: bill for horse and chaise: 1845;
  • P64/5/4/489: bill for horse and gig and wine: 1846;
  • P64/5/4/496: bill for horse and gig: 1846;
  • P64/5/4/507: bill for horse and four wheels: 1846;
  • P64/5/4/523: bill for wine: 1846-1847;
  • P64/5/4/539: bill for horse hire: 1847;
  • WG2441: sale particulars for an auction held at the Crown: 1847.
  • P64/5/4/545: bill for port: 1847-1848;
  • P64/5/4/582: bill for port: 1848-1849
  • P64/5/4/573: bill for port: 1849-1850;
  • WG2442: auction sale at the inn: 1867;
  • WG2443/1-2: auction sale at the inn: 1869;
  • WG2444: auction sale at the inn: 1870;
  • HF143/1: Register of Alehouse Licences – Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1872-1873;
  • HF143/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1874-1877;
  • WG2445: auction sale at the inn: 1877;
  • CD953: auction sale at the inn: 1878;
  • HF143/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1878-1881;
  • WG2446: auction sale at the inn: 1879;
  • WG2447: auction sale at the inn: 1879;
  • HF143/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1882-1890;
  • HF143/5: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1891-1900;
  • ST/U4/9: valuation notes: 1892;
  • X758/1/8/51: poor photograph of horse fair and public house: 1894;
  • Z723/100/48: bill to Alfred Ginn, forage contractor: 1895;
  • HF143/6: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1900-1914;
  • X758/1/8/10: postcard: c. 1900;
  • X704/92/29: ticket for a luncheon: 1901;
  • PSBW8/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1903-1915;
  • X758/1/17/36: photograph of steam engine pulling log carriers: c.1910;
  • X704/92/29: billhead: c.1911-1919;
  • LS690: auction sale of land held at inn: 1916;
  • X704/281: negative of a bill head: c.1920s; Bedfordshire Inns & Pubs in Old Postcards, pl.33: 1920s;
  • X704/281: negative: c.1920s;
  • X758/1/9/142: Potton Angling Association dinner at public house: 1938;
  • X704/92/7: note paper: c. 1940s;
  • X704/92/26: Rose and Crown garage bill head: c. 1940s;
  • PSBW8/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade Petty Sessional Division: 1956-1972;
  • Z851/8/9: photograph of Market Square with public house in background: 1959;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980;
  • BP64/33/1: photograph of the Market Square: 1981.

List of Licensees: note that this is not a complete list. Italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known:

early C18: Henry Rugeley, senior;
early C18: Henry Rugeley, junior;
1735: Richard Livett;
1783: William Mean; Catherine Edwards;
1785: John Smith;
19th century: W. Parker;
1822: John Harris and Ann King;
1823-1824: Elizabeth Harris;
1825-1845: David Compton;
1846-1850: Henry Powell (and veterinary surgeon);
1853: John Tyler;
1861-1862: Joseph Wilks;
1864-1869: Ellis Miller (& saddler)
1872-1891: Edward Mackenzie Harrison;
1891-1931: William Henry Fowler;
1940: Stanley Bennett
1957-1958: Albert Edward Diss;
1958-1959: Charles Dewis Mills;
1959-1988: Peter John Charles Simmonite;
1988-1995: LInda Margaret Bramham